This guide will help you work with the topic of gun violence and gun laws in the US, including mass shootings and school shootings. The guide is mainly intended for use in English class, but it may also be relevant for other school subjects such as Social Studies or Psychology.
The guide is designed to give you a good overview of the historical factors that have shaped the unique gun laws of the US, as well as the current issues with gun violence and the way they shape the political debate. You can also find specific suggestions for texts to use as reference points, as well as ideas for further thematic perspectives.
In the US, civilians are allowed to own and carry weapons to a much greater extent than in most other countries in the Western world. These rights date back to the very foundation of the nation, when an early Amendment to the US Constitution guaranteed the individual's right to bear arms.
However, this right has been widely debated in the 20th and 21st centuries. Especially within the past few decades, as American society has experienced a large increase in the number of mass shootings and school shootings. In the wake of these tragedies, some groups have called for stricter gun control laws, while others argue that people are more safe if everybody has the right to own guns.
In US politics, it is typically the Democrats who fight for stricter gun control, while Republicans favour less regulation. This difference meant that former Democratic President Barack Obama found it extremely difficult to implement stricter gun laws, as Congress was controlled by the Republicans during a significant part of his presidency.